nihch’ì˛’ łënöktl’uu | connect
nihch’ì˛’ łënöktl’uu | connect
two men walking along a beach in Nome
Amid wild seas and high winds, recovery began in Nome the morning after Typhoon Merbok hit.

photo by Elizabeth La quen naáy / Kat Saas Medicine Crow

Kayutkulluta / Ilavut Nakliiluit
We Take Care of Each Other

by Melanie Bahnke / Kawerak Inc.

September 20, 2022


awerak Inc. supports and stands by our communities and families impacted by the most devastating extreme weather event to hit our region and other areas of Western Alaska. We are grateful to our region’s Tribal leaders, mayors, unofficial community leaders, local volunteers, first responders, neighbors and family members who rose to the occasion, ensuring that no lives were lost. Our cultural values continue to sustain us in times of hardship and loss.

Kawerak is working with our village leaders to ensure their Small Community Emergency Response Plans are in place to prepare for disasters, and the opening of our Head Start buildings where needed as an emergency shelter before, during and after the storm.

The Kawerak Emergency Preparedness Coordinator obtained and delivered the State of Alaska oil spill materials, a shipment of food and other essentials to Golovin, which was hardest hit in our region.

Several homes were lost or severely damaged in Golovin, as well as many subsistence cabins in outlying villages and around Nome. We know that those who lost their homes must be given top priority, and once the immediate needs are met—we also need to ensure that owners of subsistence use cabins are assisted as well.

Kawerak’s Welfare Assistance Department staff will also be traveling to severely affected communities like Golovin to provide in-person assistance to individuals who would like to apply for Kawerak’s Emergency Assistance Program.

We know that we have communities in eminent danger, and the time to act is not just after a disaster, but before the next one happens. We will be calling on all our federal and state partners to ensure that climate change mitigation investments are strengthened, and that complicating factors to aid such as the 20% FEMA match when Tribes declare disasters are eliminated. Additionally, Kawerak is working with the Alaska Federation of Natives to request a Congressional hearing on disaster preparedness, mitigation, and response.

For those of you who have been impacted by this typhoon, know that you are not alone, and that Kawerak Board and Staff are working hard to not only rebuild after this disaster, but to proactively prepare for futures ones. May our Ancestors continue to watch over us to ensure that our way of life carries on for our future generations.

“Nunaafut aflengakaqaghput / Nunakut munaqsriigikut —We take care of our land.”

Melanie Bahnke is president of Kawerak Inc. This message is condensed from a longer article that is available, along with Typhoon Merbok assistance information, at